The flying time to New Zealand from Manila is approximately nine hours. Philippine Airlines, who has recently launched a direct route to Auckland, has planned the ideal departure time to allow their patrons ultimate comfort. 11PM was the boarding call, allowing travelers to avoid rush hour traffic while still having sufficient time to kickback at the Mabuhay Lounge and enjoy a bowl of the most photographed Arroz Caldo in the country. The actual air travel, which is said to be the most unexciting part of any trip, is truly one of the best when traveling PAL’s impeccable Business Class. After a three-course meal and a cocktail, lay the seat all the way down and you will sleep soundly. The next thing you know, you are awakened for breakfast, only two hours away from Auckland. It was a comfortable travel that re-energizes the body and discards any possibility of jetlag.
Upon arriving at New Zealand, we were quickly met by our host, Carole Tredrea, from Tourism New Zealand (TNZ), who had planned our itinerary. She was excited to get us to our first destination, Auckland’s famous Sky Tower, for an activity we would never forget. “The Skywalk will blow out all the cobwebs of a long flight,” shared Carole about the activity that involves people walking on a small metal platform placed around a tower 192-feet above ground with only a rope and harness to support you. With such a fear of heights, my nerves jumped high, but peer pressure got the best of me as the rest of my travel companions were enthusiastic about doing it.
After being dressed into the appropriate gear and participating in a short seminar about safety procedures, we entered a glass bottom elevator that whisked us off to the building’s viewing deck. There, we were greeted with a panoramic view of Auckland City, the biggest metropolitan of New Zealand. The sunset was just about ready to set, and the view was magnificent. Our instructors then gave us a short history on the city. They pointed out all the city’s most famous spots and answered any and all questions we might have. It was interesting that a group of such young guides were so well-versed with home’s rich heritage. They shared that Auckland was actually built on volcanic soil, and it was also the most populated city despite not being the capital. Afterwards, we were brought back to the elevator and taken up the highest point of the building for the actual Skywalk activity.
When the elevator doors opened, there was short walk to a small room with a glass door. You are then harnessed properly and reminded of the safety procedures before the door was opened to the metal platform outside. As soon as you step out, you feel cold air on your skin and the win on your face (especially the time we were there. It is Autumn in New Zealand on May). It was exhilarating looking down, seeing nothing but all the tiny cars and little people under your feet. Your heart races fast when you remember that you are basically suspended 192-feet above ground.
For next half hour, we were doing death defying acts with the help our instructors. Standing on the ledge with only our toes and laying down with only our legs on the metal platform. Cellphones are forbidden on the activity because they may be a safety risk. Luckily, the guides at the Skywalk are very handy with a camera. They can easily capture all your tricks and experiences while on the ledge. It is also very convenient, as they email you the photographs almost immediately (with a 24-hour cushion for waiting). Because of this, you have your proof, because people these days like to say: “If it isn’t on IG, did it happen at all?”. We were also lucky enough to experience a brave soul do the Sky Jump, where you jump right off the building with a harness attached. Everyone cheered for him as he did it!
By far the best thing about the Skywalk and Sky Jump experience was the view. The sun was far into the horizon and disappearing slowly into the ocean. I may have stepped out of my comfort zone that evening, but seeing the pink and purple sky of a land so far away from home is a memory I will keep in my heart forever. Carole was right, it did blow the cobwebs right out of my system. As I looked deep into the sky, I realized I was truly alive.
For more information visit https://skywalk.co.nz/about/skywalk/